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Title: Water Management in Rural Australia: The Human Rights Dimension
Contributor(s): Martin, Paul  (author)orcid ; Kennedy, Amanda L  (author)
Publication Date: 2011
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Abstract: In Australia a heated contest has emerged over the 'Water Act' 2007 (Cth). That Act reflects policy beliefs that water extraction should be limited to scientifically-determined sustainable limits and that water should be allocated to all uses through tradeable private rights to extract. These propositions are advocated by strong political groups and supported by scientific interests. We argue that concealed in the legislation is a disenfranchisement of non-economic or non-scientific interests and while such a disenfranchisement affects everyone to some extent, it particularly affects rural communities where the 'Water Act' plays out. Treatment which reduces the importance of non-economic and non-scientific interests in the Act highlights broader social justice concerns associated with private markets for environmental goods. Minority interests are subordinated to the needs of efficient markets through the automatic importation of pro-competition, trade or market freedom laws, and Constitutional or other requirements for mandatory compensation for property resumption, overriding the 'interventionist' traditions of public law. Legal power is centralised in the administrative sector of government, diminishing the opportunity for political and judicial 'interference'. There are benefits from this approach, but the hidden cost is the erosion of the role of the courts and parliament in adjusting privilege to ensure social justice. We argue that there is a case to reassert social justice as a core value in the operation of all market mechanisms, even in the face of arguments that this may be 'inefficient'. Such a re-asssertion would help restore the voice of rural communities.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Human Rights Defender, 20(2), p. 13-15
Publisher: University of New South Wales, Australian Human Rights Centre
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1039-2637
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 180111 Environmental and Natural Resources Law
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 949999 Law, Politics and Community Services not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: C3 Non-Refereed Article in a Professional Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Law

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